Initially I wasn’t going to post authoring tool rankings beyond the top ten, until July.  However, in the past week, I have received over 500 e-mails from readers requesting a list of the top twenty (rather than top then).  So, by popular demand….

The Rankings

As noted on the Top 10 list, this is for February. A new update will be July and then the final in December.

#20 eLab – The user interface is intriguing and enables anyone to build a course, without having the typical “ooh that looks so lame” with some rapid content authoring tools. Of course it can still look lame – the course that is – but that isn’t because of the product, rather umm (well you know who).  It features templates, supports SCORM and supports English, French and Arabic.  Added bonus – supports Mac OS too, and has an app in the Mac store.  Works with smartphones.

#19 Seminar Learning Systems – Seminar Author What’s not to like? Easy to use interface, themes, templates, branching, m-learning and scripts. 

#18 Mzinga Publisher – Holy macaroni! (No reason, I just love saying that) Mzinga shows up with a true social learning authoring tool. A few vendors say “social learning” but it is often far from it. Not with Publisher. Features include:

  • Community dashboards and developer blogs
  • Layers & objects
  • Task management
  • Social tags, RSS, gaming activities
  • Collaboration
  • AICC, SCORM and PENS support
  • PowerPoint can be uploaded
  • UI is solid, but it can be improved

#17 Aura Interactive SH!FT- Another product I liked in 2012 and still like in 2013. One of the first tools that enabled lip synching (your voice or whomever with the avatar/actor).

I also like the scenario templates which include ones that have work backgrounds and not something you would see in Word (ugh).  Toss in collaboration, gamification and most importantly, fun to use.  I really had fun with this product which as you know is something you don’t always get with an authoring tool.

#16 Training Bricks – Bricklayer. I’m always amazed at some of the names vendors come up with for authoring tools. This one doesn’t disappoint. From the very funky (and I say that in a postive way) UI to the feature set, this isn’t your typical brick.

My personal favorite feature is the timeline with individual tracks for audio, images and text. Move it around, cut and paste. Who doesn’t like that? Oh, right, never mind. Supports AICC and SCORM.  Easy to use.  Update: I have been told by Training Bricks that HTML5 output will be available in a few months. 

#15 Articulate Studio 09 – Until I see what 2013 can do (and it is about to be in beta), Studio sits at number 15. Despite what Articulate might say the most used products within Studio are Presenter and Quizmaker. Engage isn’t – which is a shame, because it is only one you can edit with HTML Kit (shh it’s a secret) and the Encode – I have always believed was a toss in.

Studio has always been known for the PowerPoint to Flash approach, but it also includes audio narration, TOC (yeah!) and customized player.  This is an extremely easy product to use and IMO the reason we have a huge rapid content authoring tools (regardless if you think that is good or bad), because IMO I believe that they were the first ones to do it right.

Next up, Lectora! No, I’m kidding. Seriously, I’m kidding.  Okay, let’s move on..

#14 Callidus Cloud – Rapid Intake. Oh where oh where has my doggie gone (is that the correct phrase? No idea.) Anyway, this is only one of two products who have fallen so far in only a short amount of time (the other is a LMS).

How far are we talking about? Well besides my rankings of course, think about this:

  • 1st vendor to offer collaboration and peer review
  • 1st vendor to have online/offline mobile synch
  • 1st vendor IMO to truly have HTML5 output
  • 1st vendor to offer Flash code with their SaaS product, even if you decided not to stick around – thus a gain for freelance instructional designers who have to deal with clients who want the “code”.

But, that was then. That said, the product does have some additional feature sets including:

  • Very nice branching and progress meter
  • Some gaming activities
  • QA testing and review built into the product
  • Assessment tool

This is a product that anyone can use including instructional designers (due to some advanced features such as the SDK).

#13 Madcap Suite. If you are a fan of RoboHelp but wished it offered more bang for the buck OR you wished for a translation product, a screen capture and recording product, an analyzer product and more, well Helllooooo Madcap.  This suite is a monster of a solution. Did I say monster? Yep, let’s take a quick dive at the suite.

  • Flare – You want knowledge bases? Need online help? Print based materials? Or maybe you are seeking online manuals? Well here you go. This product does it. Personally, I think it is vastly superior to RoboHelp. Oh, HTML5 output too.
  • Lingo – They call it translation management software. I call it “cool”.
  • Contributor – SMEs (Subject matter experts) can review, edit content
  • Mimic – Create video demos and tutorials. Outputs include HTML5, MP4, Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Air
  • Capture – Screen capture and recorder
  • Analyzer – The ultimate Q/A tool (Quality Assurance). From finding and fixing links, styles to suggestions (such as snippets, keywords, variables, writing structure, keywords, web and PDF optimizer)

#12 Adobe Captivate. Here is to all the conspiracy designers and folks out there who think that I am biased because this product is not in the top ten, let alone #1. Bias has nothing to do with it.

My issue with Captivate is that this product is from Adobe – a major player in technology with products such as Premiere and Photoshop.  So, when it takes forever to see video editing in Captivate – yeah I have an issue. Especially since they did not have to re-invent the wheel. I remember using Premiere back in 1999.

Anyway, they are #12 and here is why:

  • Collaboration/Review – but have to be on
  • HTML5 output
  • Twitter widget within product
  • Themes
  • HD screencast
  • Adobe Audition CS6 integration – sweet!
  • Zooming and panning – love it
  • HTML5 support with PowerPoint (available only to ASA and Subscription customers)
  • App packager (again, ASA and Subscription)

I’m sure this will not stop the comments on Captivate not being higher. But, you know what? Deal with it.

#11 Cm-group Luminosity Studio – I continue to be impressed with this product and they could easily jump into the top ten next time around. Despite a pricing structure which I believe hurts them, this product lives up to its ranking.

Features include:

  • On/Off synch – a must in today’s mobile world (m-learning)
  • HTML5 video playback
  • Custom branding
  • Create and edit video transcripts – which are hot – in the video learning platform space
  • Very nice and slick UI
  • Collaboration and peer review
  • ADA 508 compliant

So you might be thinking – why isn’t this in the top ten? Because it just isn’t there – not yet. It is missing some items I would love to see, but I’m hopeful that will change.

Now, don’t you feel like teaching the world?

I do.

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